"Oh Canada!" - A day in the Life
0500 alarm clock blasts Reveille and yes my alarm clock is the bloody military Reveille mainly because it scares the shit outta me and I'm stood by my bed waiting to be inspected still blurry eyed then I remember I'm not in the Army anymore and that I've been tricked AGAIN and tricked into believing that getting up at fucking 5am is a good idea!
I sneak around the apartment getting ready and making sure I don't wake Steph but more importantly I don't wake Peanut, the 7 year old Pug who is a full on diva! She'd be pissed if I woke her up this bloody early. So I haul all my gear down to the car quietly, did I mention that getting up at 5am sucks! But then I remember I'm off to play *cough cough* I mean work, I'm off to work! On my 1hr 20min commute it has been proven that it can't physically be done without the best coffee in the world - nah I'm not in Italy I'm in "oh Canada" which means Tim Hortons double double without fail - no I didn't have a Tim bit that early – get a grip and keep reading! Tim Hortons is a must for everyone's commute to work.
Sunrise in Vancouver is 0530 at the moment and driving up the Sea to Sky highway to Squamish was breathtaking it truly is. But I'll be honest this whole area is stunning; if you've never been to BC what are you waiting for!
Pull up to the Chief parking lot just after 7am. The Chief is the main mountain in Squamish that has slider down and Wingsuit exits, it's a gem and so close to home. As planned I met up with Scott Fraser a newish BASE jumper from bonnie Scotland now living in Vancouver, he rode his bike up for the crack as his new gear hadn't arrived yet and we met up with Braden Dean, a professional snowboarder/BASE Jumper from Whistler and all round badass and his totally awesome girlfriend Suz Graham from Utah, a pro freeskier/BASE Jumper & speed flyer. She had injured her ankle so wasn't coming on the jump but was going to hike the first part with us and we convinced Scott it would be a good idea to get his lazy ass up the first part too.
25 mins in Suz and Scott had already headed back down to watch from the bottom which left Braden and I hiking and slogging away up the backside of the Chief. It's like a stepmaster machine on steroids, there's a nice trail of steps all the way up which is brutal on the quads and my ankle that still hates me 3 years after an accident. The pain has never gone away and something i've had to learn to deal with. The humidity was such a shock so early on in the morning I was physically dripping head to toe in sweat, but it was good to be outside in the mountains.
The hike gives me time to reflect on life and think about stuff. I saw while hiking up that the video of the Christ the Redeemer statue flyby had been picked up by the Daily Mail and portrayed skydiving & BASE in a positive light, I got to read some of the comments and had a real good giggle –
here are a couple I really liked:-
Powerdesal from Normandy:
“Parachuting (even with a wingsuit) from a helicopter is NOT BASE Jumping”
Thanks for the clarification buddy! Shit i've been doing it wrong the whole time - buggar HAHA!
Harrycoal from Chillytown, Antarctica:
“Zzzzzz…. Give me a few plastic bags and a bed sheet and I could easily have done that too. No big deal… They obviously love attention BUT, get this, they’re the only ones impressed by this. There are zillions of videos on you-tube showing cool stuff. This is boring how irritating….”
HAHA I love this – I would pay good money to watch you fly with some plastic bags and a bed sheet, yeah we jumped by the Christ statue, yeah its been done before, yeah there are better wingsuit pilots than us – there always will be and Oh yeah YOU haven’t done it so “Harry Coal” continue getting irritated because hey its not going to stop!
I love the trolls online and I love trolling the trolls! Its my guilty pleasure.
So after a good few laughs I got on the phone to Sam Hardy who happened to be the absolute Ninja on the jump to capture every second of it to let him know; totally out of breath while hiking but good to chat to a friend on the other side of the world while hiking in an amazing place. Shortly after the call my mind did wander a bit to the last time I was on the Chief and the last time I went for a BASE jump here and it was a month ago where we watched our friend Jewbag go in; I'm not going to go into the details I'm sure you can imagine it was tragic. It had been a month since it happened and I realised I've not Wingsuit BASE jumped since that incident so my nerves were there for sure.
"Fear keeps you alive" is something I've always said; embrace the emotion, welcome fear but don't let it overcome you. Fear makes you re-check and triple check everything. The fear was here today.
We arrived at the top and greeted by a bunch of cool people, photographers, speed flyers, rock climbers, all here to remember another fallen local called Kyle as he died here a year ago - so people we're celebrating his memory by doing some cool stuff. It was random seeing so many people up there and it was unexpected. I only got to meet the guy once unfortunately. Our sport is surrounded by death which is sometimes really hard to accept; but like I always say "don't be sad that it's over, be happy that it happened" and that's a mantra I will always believe in.
Braden and I decided we were going to do a 2 way, he knew I was peaking and he knew what happened a month ago. This is the relationship BASE jumpers have, it is truly awesome when you know what each other is thinking yet things don't need to be said.
We were both ready: 3....2....1 and we are gone, pushed hard. I love the feeling when you’re committed to the jump but haven’t left the object, but you’re past the point of no return and you’re truly living in the moment. I pushed really hard out and down into the angle of attack and the next feeling is the suit fully inflating and the power you feel is beautiful. Its like when you’re in a fast car and you just put the pedal to the floor and nothing happens initially. Then it kicks in with a surge and BOOM you’re there! We did a nice fast flight all the way over the highway and just kept flying over the timber yard and deployed, landed on a tiny grassy patch and we just hugged; it was that moment which makes getting up at 5am fucking awesome! Once we gathered up our gear and walked back to the parking lot we got asked to join a bunch of people for coffee and bacon - how could we refuse!
After food and coffee I got the heads up that my new CR+ had arrived from Squirrel So I hot footed it back down to Vancouver as fast as possible, within the speed limit of course!! Picked up the suit and well there was no way I couldn’t jump it. So straight back on the highway and out to Skydive Vancouver in Abbottsford, hooked the wingsuit up to my skydiving rig and I was straight onto the next load.
Now if you don’t know what a CR+ is, well, I can tell you it’s a beast! The arms are a lot more ridged than I’ve ever been used to and it’s a little smaller than my Aura 2. I get on board the Kodiak in my suit and we climb to altitude. The ride to 12.5k feet here in Abbotsford is amazing. You take off and you have a huge river winding around the countryside, look towards the mountains and you have a huge mountain range with snow on the top yet its 32 degrees C – its crazy! At 12,000ft I put my helmet on, check my gear one last time and do my arm zippers up; feeling the arms are ridged is a daunting fact but a fun one because you know this is going to be FAST! I moved to the door, shut my visor and launched myself out the plane, opened the wing and the inflation was fast! Then I put in a diving turn and started to fly the thing and looking at where I was on the ground and how fast I was moving was INSANE!!! I started to flare the suit at 4,000ft and deployed high as it’s the first time on the suit and SMACK! Fuck that opened so hard I was seeing stars; so I clearly didn’t slow down enough, it felt as if I flared enough as it went pretty quiet but guess not haha. I landed and was buzzing, I’ve not buzzed soo much from a solo skydive in forever! Wow... so I obviously couldn’t just do one – now I’ve got to get this suit dialed!
Then just as the sun was setting I decided to drive home and meet Steph and go for a cold beer on the beach. And that ladies and gentleman is a day in the life “Oh Canada” edition… You're not getting the rest!